Joseph W. Shea III Esq.

Joseph W. Shea III Esq.

Cincinnati, Ohio
picture of Joe Shea

Mr. Shea has practiced law in the field of civil litigation since his graduation from law school in 1974. He has received many acknowledgments for his expertise in his field of practice. These accolades include recognition in Cincy Magazine as a "Leading Lawyer" and Cincinnati Business Courier as a “Best Lawyer in the Tristate” for as long as such designations have been given. He has been listed in Best Lawyers in America every year since 1993. By a vote of his peers and review of his work, Mr. Shea has also received the rating of "Super Lawyer" every year since the designation began and either as one of Cincinnati's top 50 lawyers or one of the top 100 lawyers in Ohio almost every year in the past 10 years. And such ranking was not just in his field of practice, but amongst all lawyers in any field which is more than 38,000 lawyers. He has been invited into the most prestigious honor societies of lawyers including the American College of Trial Lawyers, The International Society of Barristers and the American Board of Trial Advocates.

Martindale-Hubbell, the 125-year-old lawyer rating organization, rated the SheaHartmann firm as "Preeminent" in the field of civil litigation every year for the past 26 years. Only two other Cincinnati law firms match that distinction and those firms are each more than 20 times larger in size. For three years in a row, SheaHartmann, LLP has been honored as Ohio’s #1 Best Boutique Firm in Civil Litigation by Global Law (2016-2018). The firm is also rated by U.S. News and World Report as a “Best Firms in America.”

In 2017, The Cincinnati Bar Association awarded him the John P. Kiely Award which is given to one lawyer each year in recognition of “outstanding trial skills, professionalism and decorum.” The Ohio State Bar Association's Foundation bestowed its highest commendation upon him, the "Ritter Award". This prestigious award is given each year to only one of Ohio's 38,000 lawyers either practicing or sitting as a judge or alternatively to one law-related organization for the accomplishment of the “highest degree of professionalism, ethics and contribution to the legal profession.” In 2008 when he received the award, he was only the 11th practicing lawyer to receive it in the 40 years of its existence.

Mr. Shea has written several published law books. He was appointed by Chief Justice Thomas Moyer to be an examiner for the Ohio Supreme Court of Bar Examiners where he wrote a record 29 bar exams essay questions and model answers. Chief Justice Moyer also appointed him to serve as the Supreme Court's Chief examiner to oversee the examination process in 2006 and 2007.

Chase Law School presented him with its Outstanding Alumni of the Year Award in 2008. In 2009, the University of Cincinnati honored him as the “Alumni of the Month” in the McMicken College Magazine. In 2013 former U.S. Senator and current Ohio Attorney General Michael DeWine appointed him as "Special Outside Counsel" to serve as the lead litigation trial counsel in a recovery effort of a large sum of taxpayer funds that were allegedly exhausted by improper utilization. In the fall of 2015, that litigation effort was concluded with a very favorable outcome for the state of Ohio and its taxpayers. He has recently agreed to continue in this capacity as “Special Counsel” with the Ohio Attorney General through to at least 2019.

Areas of Practice

  • Civil Litigation

Certified Legal Specialties

  • Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer 1985-2018
  • National Civil Trial Board Examiner, 10 certification exams 1987-2005

Bar Admissions

  • Ohio, 1974
  • Kentucky, 1999
  • U.S. District Court Southern District of Ohio, 1975
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of Kentucky, 2000
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 6th Circuit, 1979
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 1984


  • Northern Kentucky University, Salmon P. Chase College of Law, Highland Heights, Kentucky
    • J.D. - 1974
    • Honors: National Moot Court
  • University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
    • B.A. - 1969
    • Major: Philosophy

Published Works

  • Author, Ohio Evidence Manual, Ohio Rules of Evidence with Analysis, Casemaker Print Publishing, 2005, 2008, 2011
  • Author, Shea's Ohio Civil Trial Practice with Forms, Harrison Publishing Company, 1984
  • Author, Terminology Guide for the Reporting of Civil Litigation, American Board of Trial Advocates, 1996
  • Contributing Author, "Sample Testimony" (Contributing Author), Wrongful Death in Ohio (1982 – 2008), Anderson Publishing Company
  • Contributing Author, "Investigation of Witnesses and Statements" (Contributing Author), Civil Litigation in Ohio, Ohio Legal Center Institute of the State Bar Association, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1994-2000, 2002, 2006, 2009


  • Faculty Member, Litigation Forum, Case Western Reserve University School of Law, 1981-1982, 1983, 1984
  • "Masters in Trial" (Mock Jury Trial), ABOTA, Kansas City, Kansas, 1992
  • "Masters in Trial" (Mock Jury Trial), ABOTA, Columbus, Ohio, 1993 - 1994

Honors and Awards

  • Ohio Super Lawyers, 2004 - Present
  • Ohio Top 100 SuperLawyers or Top 50 Cincinnati SuperLawyer every year since 2008
  • Cincinnati Business Courier, 2005 – 2018 “Best Lawyers in the Tri-State”
  • Leading Lawyers, Cincy Magazine, 2005 - 2018
  • Professional Achievement Award, Northern Kentucky University, 1998
  • Cincy Magazine has chosen him as a "Leading Lawyer" and the only lawyer included in his field every year since the establishment of this award in 2004 to recognize outstanding attorneys.
  • "Listing for last 25 years in "Best Lawyers in America" by Woodward White annual listing.
  • AV-rating for outstanding legal ability and high ethical standards for the past 30 years by Martindale- Hubbell
  • The Firm is one of only four Cincinnati-based firms who obtained the rating of “Pre-eminent” every year for the past 24 years in the field of Civil Litigation by Martindale-Hubbell.
  • US News and World Report rankings, the firm listed as one of the Best Firms in America since designation began.
  • Shea’s Evidence Manual, a 700-page courtroom tool used by trial lawyers and judges across the state, has advanced to three reprintings.
  • Ohio State Bar Foundation named him recipient of The Ritter Award, its highest commendation that is bestowed annually to a single lawyer. It is given in recognition of the highest professionalism, ethics and contribution to the profession by that lawyer.
  • Mr. Shea was honored with the Outstanding Alumni of the Year Award by Chase Law School in 2009.
  • He earned a National Board of Legal Specialty Certification in Civil Litigation (NBLSC) 30 years ago. He now also holds a second certification in the field of Civil Pretrial Practice. At the request of the NBLSC, he became a nationwide bar examiner. His questions and answers have been utilized more often than any other nationwide examiner in the past 30 years.
  • He was appointed to serve as the chairman of the Ohio Supreme Court Board of Bar Examiners in 1989-1990 by Chief Justice Moyer, and was appointed to write 28 bar exam questions for utilization in the Ohio bar examinations.
  • “He was elected as the youngest ever president of the Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers (n.k.a. Ohio Association of Justice) 36 years ago (1981).
  • In 2017, recipient of the John P. Kiely Award. The award is for recognition of “a single trial lawyer annually for possessing outstanding trial skills and demonstrating the highest degree of professionalism, civility, and ethical standards in his or her daily practice.”

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Supreme Court of Ohio, Member, Board of Bar Examiners, 1984 - 1989
  • Chief Justice Thomas Moyer, Supreme Court of Ohio, Chief Bar Examination Examiner, 1989 - 1990
  • Chief Justice Thomas Moyer, Special Re-Appointment as Supreme Court Examiner, 1991
  • Ohio State Bar Association, Chairman, Ethical Advertising, Marketing and Solicitation Committee, 2008 - 2009
  • National Board of Trial Advocacy, National Certification Examiner, 1984 - 1987
  • National Board of Trial Advocacy, National Certification Examiner, 1991
  • National Board of Trial Advocacy, National Certification Examiner, 1994
  • National Board of Trial Advocacy, National Certification Examiner, 1997
  • National Board of Trial Advocacy, National Certification Examiner, 2001
  • National Board of Trial Advocacy, National Certification Examiner, 2003
  • Governor's (Ohio) Insurance Task Force, 1984 - 1986
  • American Inns of Court, Master, Potter Stewart Chapter, 1993 - 1998
  • American Inns of Court, Emeritus Master, Potter Stewart Chapter, 1998 - Present
  • American College of Trial Lawyers, Member, 1999 - Present
  • American Board Trial Advocates (ABOTA), Advocate, 1989 - Present
  • American Board Trial Advocates, National Board of Directors, 1989 - Present
  • National Board of Trial Advocacy, Diplomat, 1984 - 2009
  • National Board of Trial Advocacy, Ohio State Representative, 1990 - Present
  • International Society of Barristers, Fellow, 1994 - Present
  • American Board of Trial Advocacy (ABOTA), Cincinnati Chapter – Elected as Chapter's Representative, 1989 - Present
  • ABOTA Cincinnati Chapter Secretary, 1989 - Present
  • OAJ (Youngest President Ever Elected in Academy History), President, 1981 - 1982
  • OAJ, Board of Governors, 1983 - 1998
  • Indian Hill Schools Booster Board, President, 1997 - 1998
  • National Board of Specialty Certification, Nationwide Bar Examiner, 1990 - 2009

Pro Bono Activities

  • Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, Board of Directors, 2000 - 2005
  • The Indian Hill Club, Board of Directors, 1984 - 1988
  • The Indian Hill Club, President, 1987 - 1988
  • The Village of Indian Hill Board of Recreation, Commission Member, 1978 - 1996
  • The Village of Indian Hill Board of Recreation, President, 1989 - 1992